Category Archives: design/engineering

How to Use a Paper Towel

This TED Talk- How to Use a Paper Towel- provides a useful solution for our paper towel problem (the one where we are using way too many paper towels). This video may not seem like it has a strong science connection- but I think it provides a very clear solution to an authentic human problem (technological design process). Plus, you probably won’t think about drying your hands the same way again.. shake… fold.


Can Robots Inspire Us To Be Better Humans?

This touching and engaging TEDxBerkeley Talk from Ken Goldberg makes me think of many things:

– The importance of “story” in giving a talk, presentation, lesson

– The misconception (that I may have) of robotics/engineering as being unrelated to philosophy, the arts, etc.

– STEM… and how it might be more than just the 4 letters in the acronym

Click HERE to watch on YouTube or see embedded below- enjoy

Squishy Circuits

Squishy Circuits is project from the University of St. Thomas that provides lessons, materials, and video instructions for using salt dough and sugar dough to create parts of electric circuits. These materials seem like they would be appropriate for elementary circuit kits all the way up to high school and college electrical engineering courses.

My favorite part of this site is the inclusion of several clear and concise video clips that support a teacher in using the materials.. good stuff.

See the embedded TED Talk below where AnneMarie Thomas describes the circuits.

K-5 Application (Design) Handbook

The K-5 Application Handbook (design process) is my companion to the best-selling (?) K-5 Systems Handbook. The K-5 Application Handbook is an attempt to package a variety of technological design process tools, resources, sample lessons, and links into one easy to share document.

The handbook contains materials from Project 2061, OSPI, ESD 112, the Bethel School District, and others. You will find:

    • a preface describing the importance of the design process and the rationale for the handbook
    • an overview of application standards in national science standard documents, in Washington state science standards, and Washington state Test & Item specs
    • a small set of tools for teaching design: frameworks, 3 sample lessons (including a literacy lesson)
    • an emerging table of opportunities to teach design within FOSS science kits- (would love to make this more explicit and robust)
    • links to more design resources online
    I hope this K-5 Application Handbook is useful for your context and provides a starting place for ongoing staff development about the technological design process with the Application Science EALR. I’d be very interested in hearing about how you modify and use this document. Please also share any resources that I’ve missed. Enjoy.

Audri’s Rube Goldberg Video

There are lots of good Rube Goldberg videos online- but this one is spectacular for lots of reasons. This video demonstrates the struggles and delights of the technological design process through the eyes of a 7 year old- enjoy.

If you are unable to see the embedded video below- click HERE.

Wouldn’t it be Cool If…

Wouldn’t It Be Cool If.. is a contest presented by Time Warner Cable’s Connect a Million Minds and’s FIRST.

The contest challenges kids in two age categories — 10-12 and 13-15 — to dream up the coolest invention idea to make their lives, communities and even the world more AWESOME.

Now through March 28th, kids can enter the contest by submitting an invention idea and sharing how math and science can make it real. Ideas can be submitted by individuals or teams of 2 or 3 people.

Click HERE to visit the website and get complete information about the contest rules and how to submit an idea. You will also find helpful resources for teachers and parents.

BLOSSOMS: Free STEM Lessons from MIT

BLOSSOMS (Blended Learning Open Source Science Or Math Studies) is a library of math and science video courseware from MIT. Currently there are over 50 FREE video-based lessons for high school students. Each 50 minute lesson includes video components, a teacher guide, and handouts for students.

Check out the Free Fall lesson on physics concepts HERE and embedded below.

For a more informative overview of BLOSSOMS read a blog post from the JOURNAL here.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Project-Based Learning Model

Pacific Education Institute has done it again! They have created yet another wonderful resource for science educators- The Project-Based Learning Model: Relevant Learning for the 21st Century. This document provides resources and examples for an 8 Step model for how to conduct project-based learning. The steps include:

  1. Describe the ecosystem
  2. Determine and define the problem
  3. Research the problem
  4. Stakeholder description
  5. Propose possible solutions
  6. Develop a plan: Identify, Plan, and Reflect on your project
  7. Implement the plan
  8. Summarize, Evaluate, and Reflect

Some things I really appreciate about this model are:

– based in life science context… seems like many PBL resources are set in a physical science context

– based on the practices from the new Framework for K-12 Science Education

– FREE and easy to download!

– The bibliography, glossary, and appendices are very helpful

– seems to align nicely with the 7 Essentials for Project-Based Learning from Educational Leadership 2010

I’m interested to hear what others think of this resource.

Engineering, Go for It (eGFI)

Engineering, Go for It (eGFI) is a site (I first mentioned eGFI a couple of years ago HERE) that provides a focused and engaging set of resources to get students excited about engineering. You can watch video clips (see below) of university students describing their engineering programs or learn about a specific field of engineering.

The Etube section contains multiple engineering themed video clips while the Trailblazers section features readings and video spotlights on real working engineers. There is now a substantial collection of these clips.. with a diverse collection of scientists/engineers sharing their work. See embedded example below.

The site also has a For Teachers section with K-12: lesson plansclass activitiesoutreach programsweb resources, and more. The lesson plans seem very well developed and contain downloadable documents, video supports, assessments, etc.

There is also a great interactive online magazine about engineering- check it out HERE.

Applications for Science Teachers: Any district, school, or teacher looking to add some engineering focus to science instruction would be well served in checking out this site as a starting place.

Resources for Digging into A Framework for K-12 Science Education

If you have taken the time to read the entire Framework for K-12 Science Education.. then you should be congratulated. However, there are probably many science education stakeholders who would like a Cliff Notes version or a process for digging into the massive document.

Luckily, the brilliant and talented Kim Klinke at the Center for Inquiry Science has created a set of tools that are EXCELLENT for making sense of the document. These tools would be perfect for a session of professional development, working with science education stakeholders, or even for your own independent study of the Framework.

The materials include:

– A Cheat Sheet that provides a clear and concise overview of the framework plus some reflection/planning space Framework Summary

– Physical Science Overview Physical Science Index

– Life Science Overview Life Science Index

– Earth/Space Overview Earth and Space Science Index

– An exploratory activity for digging into 3 themes in the framework document.. could be used for a jigsaw activity Exploratory Activity

– You will probably want a copy of the framework document as well.